Two J&K ultras killed

SRINAGAR: Indian troops killed two Islamic militants in a raid on Friday on their hideout in southern Kashmir in the first clash after the start of a bus service across the divided state, the army said. “This morning, the army killed two militants during a raid on their hideout in Pulwama district,” an army statement said. “The fighting has ended but searches are on and so far two assault rifles have been recovered,” it added. — AFP

18 miners confirmed dead

BEIJING: Eighteen miners, trapped in a coal mine in southwest China after a gas explosion on Tuesday have been confirmed dead, the official State Administration of Work Safety’s website reported on Friday. Five workers were still missing, it said, although state media reported earlier that a total of 22 miners were trapped after the accident at the Tianfu Mining Company in Hechuan city, Chongqing municipality. — AFP

Tigers kill ex-renegade

COLOMBO: A suspected Tamil Tiger rebel shot and killed a rival group member as the latter waited to board a bus in eastern Sri Lanka on Friday, the latest violent incident in the area since the guerrilla movement split a year ago, military officials said. The victim, identified as Edward Pakkiyarasa, 29, was fatally shot by a lone gunman in Kattankudy, a suburb of the area’s main town of Batticaloa, said army officials — AP

Peace plan for Thai south

BANGKOK: A panel tasked with drafting a peace plan to end an insurgency in Thailand’s deep south opened its first meeting on Friday, vowing to consider the demands of rights groups critical of the government’s handling of the unrest. “Many points on the human rights group’s demands are in line with the commission, which aims to work on long-term peace and reconciliation,” said former prime minister Anand Panyarachun, who heads the commission. — AFP

Tsunami toll 217,000

JAKARTA: The number of people killed in the December 26 tsunami disaster which devastated 11 Indian Ocean countries has been revised down to 217,000 after Indonesia drastically reduced its number of missing. Indonesia remains the worst-hit country, with 163,978 people dead or missing. National Disaster Relief Coordination Agency had listed 26,915 people as dead while 37,063 were missing. — AFP • SNIPPETS